What is SEER?
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio.
Every air conditioner and heat pump comes with a SEER rating, which represents the unit’s energy efficiency. Generally, the higher the HVAC SEER rating, the more efficient the unit and the less energy it consumes. This means A/C energy savings for your customers, and a great selling point for your tech.
Since 2015, national energy efficiency standards require a minimum SEER rating on all air conditioners and heat pumps sold and installed. While older HVAC equipment may have an 8 or 9 SEER rating, modern units typically range from 13 or 14 SEER as a minimum (regulations vary by state) and 21 to 25 SEER as a maximum.
Another round of national energy efficiency standards for residential central AC and heat pumps goes into effect in 2023.
But, there’s more to helping customers choose the best central air system or heat pump than simply picking a unit with the highest SEER rating. Our SEER Rating Calculator determines costs and A/C energy savings based on a specific HVAC formula.
How to Calculate SEER Energy Savings
To calculate SEER, ServiceTitan uses four factors to determine how much a customer could potentially save on energy costs by upgrading to a unit with a higher HVAC SEER rating:
SEER rating of customer’s current air conditioner or heat pump.
Look for the bright yellow and black “EnergyGuide” rating tag on the side of the customer’s outdoor condenser or indoor air handler; or record the system’s model number and serial number, then contact the manufacturer
Size (in tons) of customer’s current air conditioner or heat pump.
Although some companies refer to tonnage as the size of the A/C or heat pump, the term represents the unit’s cooling capacity—how much heat the unit removes from a house or business in one hour. For example, a 1-ton air conditioner can remove 12,000 BTUs of heat from a home in one hour, while a 2-ton air conditioner can remove 24,000 BTUs.
Cost of electricity per kilowatt-hour (Kwh) in your state.
The national average of electric energy costs $0.14 per kilowatt hour. Click here to find your state’s current electricity rate.
Estimated annual cooling or heating hours for customer’s location.
The national average of unit operation equals 2,100 hours per cooling season. Seasonal changes and different climates for each region often dictate how many hours a customer’s system needs to run during a typical cooling season. If possible, review the past few years of the customer’s annual usage and figure the average operating time per year.
The SEER Rating Savings Calculator then compares that existing data with a higher-efficiency air conditioner or heat pump to show customers A/C energy savings over a year, five years, or longer to demonstrate ROI on new cooling equipment.
SEER Formula + Example
Simply put, the SEER rating calculation formula represents the ratio of the cooling output of an air conditioner or heat pump over a typical cooling season, divided by the energy it consumes in kilowatt hours.
Using the factors outlined above, we can utilize the SEER formula to compare the cost savings for a 3-ton A/C unit with an 9 SEER rating to a 3-ton A/C unit with a 16 SEER rating.
Assuming the electricity cost is $0.14 per Kwh and the A/C runs 2,100 hours per cooling season, the customer would save $514 per year on energy expenses.
A good SEER rating for most cooling systems ranges from 14 SEER to 16 SEER, with a higher-rated unit offering slightly more efficiency, but also costing a little more. Compare different HVAC SEER ratings and potential savings with our 14 SEER vs. 16 SEER calculator.
SEER Rating Chart
Think of an A/C SEER rating in terms of buying a car with a high MPG (miles per gallon). If you operate that vehicle exactly as the manufacturer intended, you’re likely to see value in fuel savings. If you drive it like Mario Andretti, those savings will quickly evaporate. The same goes for your customers’ home or business cooling systems.
Installing an incorrectly sized air conditioner or heat pump for a customer wastes time and money. An A/C unit that’s too large for the space might start short-cycling, which occurs when the compressor fails to run long enough to dehumidify the home or business. It causes the system to cycle on and off more than necessary. A too-small system also runs too much to match the thermostat cooling setting and wears out faster.
ServiceTitan’s SEER Savings Calculator takes the guesswork out of energy savings for your customers considering a new cooling unit, so you can clearly communicate the potential benefits to improve your company’s sales.
Want to grow your HVAC business? Learn more about what HVAC software can do for you by scheduling a demo today.
AFUE Energy Savings Calculator: Quantify Furnace Efficiency
Nearly half of all homes in the U.S. use natural gas as the primary heating fuel, and energy experts forecast a 30% increase in heating bills this winter, largely due to the rising retail prices of natural gas.
To help your HVAC customers reduce those high-energy costs during the winter, your techs can explain the benefits of installing a new high-efficiency furnace, and show them how much money they can save with ServiceTitan’s AFUE Energy Savings Calculator.
What is AFUE?
AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency.
Every new furnace powered by fuel (natural gas, propane, oil, etc.) comes with an AFUE rating, which measures the percentage of fuel converted into heat. The higher AFUE, the lower the heating costs.
For instance, an 80 AFUE furnace converts 80% of its fuel into heat, but wastes 20% through air leaks or inefficient design. A 95 AFUE furnace converts 95% of its fuel into heat, but wastes 5%, and so on.
First developed by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers), AFUE serves as the national standard of measurement for combustion efficiency used by the U.S. Department of Energy. This federal agency sets the minimum AFUE for gas furnaces at 90% for the Northern region and 80% for the Southwest and Southern regions.
Most high-efficiency furnaces today come with a 90 AFUE rating or higher, and some top-of-the-line models offer AFUE savings of up to 98%. This translates into real savings on utility bills for your customers—and a great selling point for your techs.
Just keep in mind, AFUE measures furnace efficiency, whereas Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures the energy efficiency of cooling systems, like air conditioners and heat pumps (used to heat and cool).
How to Calculate AFUE Savings
AFUE represents the amount of fuel used to create heat, or the percent of heat produced for every dollar of fuel consumed.
To calculate the AFUE percentage, you divide the amount of fuel supplied to the furnace by the amount of heat produced by the unit—typically measured in BTUs or British Thermal Units. The average household, especially in the Northern region, needs about 100 million BTUs during a normal heating season.
In its Winter 2020-2021 outlook, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts a 30% increase in heating costs for U.S. households that primarily use natural gas for space heating, with most consumers expected to spend an average of $746 on heating this winter.
To understand BTUs as they relate to AFUE, think of it in these terms: A heating system with a 90% AFUE rating means that nine-tenths of every BTU of energy used to run the furnace is returned to the home or business as usable heat. Again, the higher AFUE, the higher the savings.
To use our energy savings calculator to determine AFUE for heating efficiency, ServiceTitan considers four factors to determine how much a customer could potentially save on energy costs by upgrading to a high-efficiency furnace with a higher HVAC AFUE rating:
1. AFUE efficiency rating of customer’s current furnace.
Look for the AFUE rating on the bright yellow-and-black EnergyGuide label on the side of the customer’s furnace. If you can’t locate the EnergyGuide label, try checking the owner’s manual or record the system’s model number and serial number, then contact the manufacturer.
Keep in mind that heating equipment becomes less efficient over time, so educate customers about the value of getting an accurate efficiency rating reading from an HVAC professional or leading HVAC company.
Note: If customers use heat pumps for heating homes and businesses, you’ll need to check the heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) rating tag on the side of the customer’s unit. SEER for heat pumps works similarly to air conditioners, as they both use electricity (not fuel) and are sized based on how many BTUs they produce.
The main difference between SEER and AFUE is SEER compares BTUs with watt-hours and AFUE compares BTUs with BTUs.
2. HVAC load calculation.
The HVAC load calculation shows you the exact amount of BTUs that a certain space requires for sufficient heating. It identifies the square footage of each room or the whole house to determine the capacity—BTUs per hour—needed to reach the desired indoor temperature.
While the Manual J residential calculation provides the most accurate sizing for an HVAC unit, technicians can use ServiceTitan’s HVAC Load Calculator to determine a general estimate in the field.
3. Cost of natural gas per thousand cubic feet (MCF) in your state.
According to the EIA, retail natural gas prices in the United States are expected to rise, on average, from $10.17 per thousand cubic feet (MCF) last winter to $12.93/MCF this winter, the highest price in 15 years. The EIA expects the largest increase in retail natural gas prices to occur in the Midwest, where prices may rise to $11.28/MCF, a 45% increase compared with last winter. Click here to find your state’s current natural gas price.
4. Estimated annual heating hours for customer’s location.
Seasonal changes and different climates for each region often dictate how many hours a customer’s system needs to run during a typical heating season. Generally, climates with cold and wet conditions tend to need heating longer than warm and dry climates. If possible, review the past few years of the customer’s annual usage and figure the average operating time per year.
The AFUE Energy Savings Calculator then compares that existing data with a higher-efficiency gas furnace to show customers energy savings over a year, five years, or longer to demonstrate ROI on a new natural gas-powered furnace.
AFUE Formula + Example
To calculate the AFUE percentage, you divide the amount of fuel supplied to the furnace by the amount of heat (BTUs) produced by the unit. The calculator computes how much per year the customer is spending on heating costs based on three primary factors:
The type of fuel used in the customer’s current heating system.
The AFUE rating on the customer’s unit.
The unit’s BTU input capacity or tonnage.
The calculator then compares the customer’s current heating system with a new one. Here are two examples:
60 AFUE vs. 80 AFUE—25% saved per year
5-year savings: $2,506
10-year savings: $5,012
15-year savings: $7,518
60 AFUE vs. 90 AFUE—33% saved per year
5-year savings: $3,341
10-year savings: $6,682
15-year savings: $10,023
AFUE Rating Chart
Think of an AFUE rating in terms of buying a car with a high MPG (miles per gallon). If you operate that vehicle exactly as the manufacturer intended, you’re likely to see value in fuel savings. If you drive it like Mario Andretti in the Indy 500, those savings will quickly evaporate. The same goes for your customers’ home or business heating systems.
ServiceTitan’s AFUE Energy Savings Calculator takes the guesswork out of energy savings for your customers considering a new furnace, so you can clearly communicate the potential benefits to improve your company’s sales.
*The recommended values are in good faith and are solely meant for generic, informative purposes. We do not guarantee the accuracy of this information. Please note that other external factors may affect or falsify the recommendations. For accurate results, consult a professional.